Vin Connections (October 2002)

IN THIS ISSUE

Around the World
Wines from Italy, France, Australia and the U.S.A.

This month we’ve brought together wines from around the world for you to find and enjoy. But I’ve started with Australia for three reasons:

First, in honor of my Son’s godparents, who hail from Brisbane. G’day Bobby and Kellie!

Second, a bottle of 1998 Peter Lehmann Shiraz “The Barossa” which my wife and I recently enjoyed on our 15th anniversary that blew away the server at St. Helena’s Martini House in the heart of the Napa Valley… and though we originally purchased it for just over a tenth the price of a particular “cult cab” we tasted (and did NOT buy) earlier the same day, it stood up remarkably well. (FYI, the 1999 vintage is a current “Buy-by-the-Case” selection in the Wine PocketList, with a list price of $19).

Lastly, and most important to you, the price/quality you’ll find in many Australian wines is quite remarkable. Though Australia’s 850 or so wineries produce about a third as much wine as California, the well-priced, well-made wines have earned admirers the world over. Chardonnay is now the third most popular wine (behind Shiraz and Cabernet) and Shiraz (the uniquely Australian adaptation of the French Syrah grape from the northern Rhфne Valley) is a big, flavorful red that has helped put Australian wine on the map.

Our mission, as always, is to help everyday wine lovers like us (who enjoy a good bottle of wine now and then) to make better and more informed buying decisions, while confidently trying new wines. If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact us.

We appreciate your feedback, and your readership.

It means a lot to us.

Cheers!

  • This Month’s Reader Question:
    “Are the hand-written notes on the shelves in the wine aisle legit?”
  • This Month’s Wine Pick:
  • This Month’s Quote:
    Napoleon

THIS MONTH’S READER QUESTION

“Are the hand-written notes on the shelves in the wine aisle legit?”

Q. “For years I’ve read the hand-written notes in the wine aisles, and made more than one purchase based on the glowing recommendations. But my nephew recently told me they’re all fake. I hate to be a cynic, but what’s the story?”
— Alan Mitchell, Bend, Oregon

A. Alan, you’re not alone. The fact of the matter is that in many cases, your nephew is correct. It doesn’t mean they’re not accurate, but most of these are supplied by the distributors and wine makers to the stores as promotional devices. In the industry, they’re called “shelf talkers.”

That doesn’t mean they’re not true. If they are claiming a certain score from one of the well-known wine publications, chances are you can believe it. But pay attention to the vintage – and the wine – that was reviewed. It’s the ones that wax eloquent about the wine with no attribution whatsoever that you can pretty much guarantee were written by the marketing folks.

In some smaller stores, as well as the occasional supermarket with a well-stocked wine department, the managers and employees do make notes about their favorites. It was this practice that got the marketers thinking in the first place! But their taste still won’t necessarily mimic your known.

Your best defense is a good offense: so print out your own Wine PocketList before you head out, and make a more informed choice every time you shop for wine.


VINCONNECTIONS OCTOBER WINE PICKS

WIDELY AVAILABLE: Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia

2000 Chardonnay, Rosemount “Show Reserve, Hunter Valley”
New South Wales

IE: A+,A,A-,A-,A-
$19, Grade A-
WPL: W, BBC
2001 Chardonnay, Madfish
Western Australia
IE: A-,B+$15, Grade A-
WPL: W
2000 Syrah/Shiraz, Penfolds “Shiraz-Mourvиdre, Bin 2”
South Eastern
IE: A-,B+$11, Grade B+
WPL: W
2001 Syrah/Shiraz, Paringa “Shiraz, Individual Vineyard”
South Australia
IE: A-,B+$10, Grade B+
WPL: B, W
2000 Syrah/Shiraz, Wolf Blass “Shiraz-Cab.Sauv,Red Label”
South Australia
IE: B+,B$12, Grade B+
WPL: W

BUY-BY-THE-CASE: Viva la France!

2000 Gamay, Georges Duboeuf “Prestige, Morgon”
Beaujolais
IE: A-,A-,B$14, Grade A-
WPL: BBC
1999 Pinot Blanc, Dom.Zind-Humbrecht “Pinot d’Alsace”
Alsace
IE: A-,B+$23, Grade A-
WPL: BBC
2000 Gamay, Dom. Marcel Lapierre “Morgon”
Beaujolais
IE: A-,A-$22, Grade A-
WPL: BBC
2000 Gamay, Diochon “Cuvйe Vieilles Vignes,Moulin-а-Vent
Beaujolais
IE: A-,B+$18, Grade A-
WPL: BBC
1999 Ch. Sociando-Mallet “Haut-Mйdoc”
Bordeaux
IE: A-,B+$26, Grade A-
WPL: S, W, BBC

BARGAIN WINES: From Italy

1999 Sangiovese, I. Mori “Chianti Colli Fiorentini”
Tuscany

IE: B+
$10, Grade B+
WPL: B
2000 Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Peter Zemmer “Pinot Grigio”
Trentino-Alto Adige
IE: B+$10, Grade B+
WPL: B
2000 Dolcetto, Gianolio Tomaso “Alba”
Piedmont
IE: B+$10, Grade B+
WPL: B
2000 Barbera, Icardi “Tabarin, Asti”
Piedmont
IE: A-,B$10, Grade B+
WPL: B
1999 Merlot Tommasi “Garda, Vigneto Le Prunйe”
Beaujolais, France
IE: B+$10, Grade B+
WPL: B

SPLURGE WINES: U.S.A.: Focus on Washington State Reds

1999 Syrah/Shiraz, Ch. Ste. Michelle “Reserve”
Columbia Valley
IE: A-
$29, Grade A-
WPL: S
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, Soos Creek
Columbia Valley
IE: A$30, Grade A
WPL: S
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, L’Ecole No. 41
Columbia Valley
IE: A+,B+$30, Grade A-
WPL: S
1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, Canoe Ridge
Columbia Valley
IE: A+,A,A-$28, Grade A
WPL: S, BBC
1999 Syrah/Shiraz, Columbia Crest “Reserve”
Columbia Valley
IE: A,A,A,A,B+,B$28, Grade A-
WPL: S, BBC

Wine Quote

“Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.”
– Napoleon.

[Chambertin is a renowned, grand cru vineyard located in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin in the Cфte de Nuits district of France’s Burgundy region. The Chambertin wines were one of Napoleon’s favorites and it’s said that he insisted that they be close at hand, even when he was preparing for battle!]


DEFINITIONS AND GLOSSARY


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

Oksana C
Author: Oksana C

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